Current Affairs Daily Current Affairs 22

27thMarch,2022 ; Daily Current Affairs

Daily Current Affairs   Date :27thMarch,2022

 (30+ Questions hit in Prelims 2021 from this series)

Covers 4 Most relevant Sources

  • The Hindu
  • Indian Express
  • PIB
  • Mint

Index

  • Olive Ridley Turtles and Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary (TH, pg 10)
  • Koyna Dam (TH, pg 9)
  • Beyond Record Exports (TH, pg 13)
  • Common University Entrance Test (CUET) (TH, pg 13)
  • Yaksha and Yakṣhini (PIB)
  • Odissi: The Mobile Sculpture Dance Form (PIB)

 

  1. Olive Ridley Turtles and Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary (TH, pg 10)

  • Context: About 2.45 lakh Olive Ridley sea turtles crawled ashore on the Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary along the Odisha coast for laying eggs.
  • The Gahirmatha Marine Wildlife Sanctuary is the only marine sanctuary of Orissa.
  • It extends from Dhamara river in the north to Brahmani river mouth in the south and is famous for its nesting beach for Olive Ridley Turtles.
  • These turtles travel all the way from South Pacific Ocean to breed on the coast of Gahirmatha.
  • However, once known as a safe nesting ground on India’s east coast, a nearly 30-km long coastline in the Godavari estuary has been witnessing a sharp fall in the arrival of Olive Ridley turtles during the breeding season as large numbers of them are trapped by high-speed fishing boatson the Andhra coast.
  • The entire rookery, including the Coringa Wildlife Sanctuary, is part of the rare and ecologically sensitive Godavari mangrove system.

Analysis

Olive Ridley Turtles

  • The Olive Ridley turtles are the smallest and most abundant of all sea turtles found in the world.
  • They inhibit warm waters/tropical regions of the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans.
  • These turtles, along with the Kemps Ridley turtle, are best known for their unique mass nesting called Arribada, where thousands of females come together on the same beach to lay eggs.
  • Though found in abundance, their numbers have been declining over the past few years, and the species is recognized as Vulnerable under the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red list.

Characteristics

  • They are carnivores.
  • These turtles spend their entire lives in the ocean.

Nesting Places

  • The coast of Orissa in India is the largest mass nesting site for the Olive-Ridley which happens during the months of October to April, followed by the coasts of Mexico and Costa Rica.
  • The 480-km-long Odisha coast has three arribadabeaches at Gahirmatha, the mouth of the Devi river, and in Rushikulya, where about 1 lakh nests are found annually.
  • More recently, a new mass nesting site has been discovered in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
  • The coast of Odisha is considered to be one of the largest Olive Ridley nesting sites not only in India, but in the world.
  • But the turtles have also been found to nest in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and parts of the Konkan coast.
  • According to wildlife experts, in India, while states like Maharashtra, Goa, and the offshore Andaman islands witness sporadic nesting of olive ridley turtles, Odisha is the only state in India that sees mass nesting of olive ridley turtles.
  • Both the mass nesting hotspots (Gahirmatha and Rushikulya) are located close to the biodiversity-rich regions of Odisha.
  • While the Gahirmatha site is adjacent to the Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary, Rushikulya is close to the Chilika Lake, Asia’s largest brackish water lagoon.
  • Olive ridleys are found throughout the mainland and in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and to a lesser extent in the Lakshadweep Islands. In the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, olive ridley and leatherback turtles often share nesting beaches, while hawksbill and green turtles share beaches.
  • Sea turtles generally return to their natal beach, or where they were born, to lay eggs as adults.
  • The eggs, laid in nests dug along the beach, incubate on their own with the help of the heat from the sand. (No need of mother to sit on eggs).
  • Depending on the temperature of the sand, the eggs hatch in about 45 to 60 days.
  • Studies have found three main factors that damage Olive Ridley turtles and their eggs —
  • heavy predation of eggs by dogs and wild animals,
  • indiscriminate fishing with trawlers and gill nets, and
  • beach soil erosion.

The rain can affect the eggs of turtle incubating under the sand in the following ways:

  • Reduction of temperature in the nests.
  • Tightening the sand covering the eggs.
  • Sex determination of the hatchlings.
  • Some other countries with Olive Ridley nesting sites are:
  • Mexico
  • Costa Rica
  • Brazil
  • Kenya
  • Australia

Do you know?

  • Five species of sea turtles are known to inhabit Indian coastal waters and islands.
  • These are:
  • Olive Ridley (Vulnerable),
  • Green (Endangered),
  • Hawksbill (Critically Endangered),
  • Loggerhead (Vulnerable) and
  • Leatherback (Vulnerable).
  • Except the Loggerhead, the remaining four species nest along the Indian coast.
  • All five species of sea turtles found in India are included in Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, and in the Appendix I of the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which prohibits trade in turtle products by signatory countries.
  • The eastern coastline is the feeding area for Olive Ridley, juvenile Hawksbills and Green turtles.

Role in marine ecosystem

  • Sea turtles, especially the leatherback, keep jellyfish under control, thereby helping to maintain healthy fish stocks in the oceans.
  • The Green turtle feeds on sea grass beds and by cropping the grass provide a nursery for numerous species of fish, shellfish and crustaceans.
  • The Hawksbill feeds on sponges in the reef ecosystem and opens up crevices for other marine life to live in.
  1. Koyna Dam (TH, pg 9)

  • Context:Koyna project is late due to delay in sanction of funds, said CAG report.

Analysis

  • The Koyna dam is located in Maharashtra, constructed on the Koyna River, a tributary of the Krishna river, that originates in Mahabaleshwar, a hill station in the Sahyadri ranges.
  • Unlike most of the other rivers in Maharashtra that flow east-west direction, the Koyna river flows in a north-south direction.
  • The confluence of the rivers Koyna and Krishna is called Preeti Sangam.
  • The main purpose of the dam is hydroelectricity with some irrigation in neighbouring areas.

Do you know?

  • Koyna Dam site was the root cause of first ever earthquake experienced in the region due to anthropogenic causes.
  • Seismologists argue that large reservoirs can hold more than 1 trillion litres of water that can crack and fissure the insides of the surrounding earth when the water levels inside rise and fall. This can induce weaknesses in the surrounding rock mass and trigger reservoir-induced earthquakes.
  1. Beyond Record Exports (TH, pg 13)

  • Context:On March 21, the value of India’s outbound shipments in the financial year 2021-22 hit $400 billion, the highest ever. By the time the year closes, another $10 billion worth of goods is expected to be shipped out. This would translate into a growth of about 41% from the pandemic-hit year of 2020-21, making it India’s fastest exports growth rate since 2009-10.

Analysis

  • While higher prices of commoditiesand oil helped drive up the value of exports, with petroleum products exports jumping over 141%, some of India’s industrial sectors shone through as well.
  • Engineering exports, for instance, have jumped 46.5% to cross $100 billion for the first time, even as chemicals, cotton yarn, handloom products, and the apparel industry have done well.
  • Part of this could also be explained by the world shifting its global procurement preferences to diversify their dependence on China following the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus.
  • Australia, which is in the midst of a shrill trade battle with China, has made way for India, taking exports up 94% so far this year. Shipments to the U.S. are also up 47%.

What about imports and the trade deficit?

  • Even as exports may rise nearly $120 billion this year, India’s imports have shot up to record levels and could end up nearly $200 billion over 2020-21’s import figure of $393.6 billion.

What are the risk factors for Indian exports in the coming year?

  • Although India’s direct trade with Russia is not significant at about 1% of its trade basket, the Ukraine-Russia conflict may create some more opportunities for Indian farm produce exports, especially for crops like wheat and maize.
  • But this would be offset by a sharp rise in India’s energy import bill as well as an uptick in costs of importing edible oils like sunflower oil, whose production is dominated by the two nations at war.
  • India imports 80% of its oil and demand is likely to grow as the economic recovery picks up pace, provided the pandemic doesn’t resurface. This could translate into a ’term-of-trade’ (the relative price of a country’s exports with respect to imports)shock, with elevated trade and current account deficits and sustained pressure on the rupee even as monetary tightening in the developed world may suck out dollars from emerging markets.
  • The RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das has pointed out that unlike the taper tantrum of 2013, the country’s foreign exchange reserves, adequate to cover more than 12 months of imports, are robust and can finance higher current account deficits if needed.
  • What is taper tantrum?In May 2013, the US Fed’s announcement that it would taper its massive bond-buying programme that had been on since the global financial crisis led to a sudden sell-off in global stocks and bonds.
  • This triggered capital outflows and currency depreciation in many emerging market economies that received large capital inflows. This episode earned the nickname taper tantrum.
  • While high shipping rates, container shortages and re-alignment of trade routes around the Black Sea will pose a challenge, timely actions on the policy front could help create more export opportunities.
  • First, a swift conclusion of Free Trade Agreement pacts being negotiated with countries like the U.K., Australia and Canada, could create easier market access in these large markets.
  • Second, exporters await a long-overdue revision of the Foreign Trade Policy for 2015-20, that has now been extended into the first few months of 2022-23 as well.

Third, a parliamentary committee has urged the government to include Special Economic Zones and sectors such as pharma, steel, and chemicals under the Remission of Duties and Taxes on Export Products (RoDTEP) Scheme, which finally kicked off last year after a significant delay.

  1. Common University Entrance Test (CUET) (TH, pg 13)

  • Context: The University Grants Commission (UGC) made it mandatory for all 45 Central universities to admit students to undergraduate programmes from 2022-23 based on scores obtained in the Common University Entrance Test (CUET) conducted by the National Testing Agency (NTA).

Analysis

What is the CUET and who will use it?

  • The CUET is a computer-based test that will be conducted by the NTA based on the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) syllabus for Class 12.
  • All admissions into undergraduate courses at Central universities funded by UGC will mandatorily be based on CUET scores from 2022-23, replacing institution-specific entrance examinations or the ranking policy using Class 12 scores for admission. Other universities — whether State-owned, private or deemed — are also free to use CUET scores for their own admissions as well.
  • Technical courses already using the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) are exempt from CUET.
  • Skill-based professional courses like Music, Art, Theatre and Fine Arts can use a combination of the CUET score along with an interview or practical test.
  • Class 12 board examination scores can still be used as a minimum qualifying mark, depending on the policies of individual universities.

Need for a common entrance test

  • The National Education Policy, 2020 proposed a common university entrance test as a way of ensuring uniform quality while reducing the cost and efforts of all stakeholders.
  • CUET would provide an equal opportunity to students from across the country that seek admission from different boards, especially those from remote and rural areas.

National Testing Agency

  • National Testing Agency is responsible for conducting competitive entrance exams like NEET, JEE, CTET, GATE, GPAT, GMAT, CAT, UGC NET, etc.
  • National Testing Agency (NTA) was established as a Society registered under the Indian Societies Registration Act, 1860.
  • It is an autonomous and self-sustained testing organization to conduct entrance examinations for admission/fellowship in higher educational institutions.

University Grants Commission

  • The University Grants Commission of India is a statutory body set up by the Department of Higher Education, Ministry of Education.

Do you know?

  • In ancient times, Nalanda, Taxila and Vikramsila universities were renowned seats of higher learning, attracting students not only from all over the country but from far off countries like Korea, China, Burma (now Myanmar), Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), Tibet and Nepal.
  • The present system of higher education dates back to Mountstuart Elphinstone`s minutes of 1823, which stressed on the need for establishing schools for teaching English and the European sciences.
  • Later, Lord Macaulay, in his minutes of 1835, advocated efforts to make natives of the country thoroughly good English scholars.
  • Sir Charles Wood`s Dispatch of 1854, famously known as the Magna Carta of English Education in India`, recommended creating a properly articulated scheme of education from the primary school to the university.
  • It sought to encourage indigenous education and planned the formulation of a coherent policy of education.
  • Subsequently, the universities of Calcutta, Bombay (now Mumbai) and Madras were set up in 1857, followed by the university of Allahabad in 1887.
  • The Inter-University Board (later known as the Association of Indian Universities) was established in 1925 to promote university activities, by sharing information and cooperation in the field of education, culture, sports and allied areas.
  • The first attempt to formulate a national system of education in India came in 1944, with the Report of the Central Advisory Board of Education on Post War Educational Development in India, also known as the Sargeant Report.
  • It recommended the formation of a University Grants Committee, which was formed in 1945 to oversee the work of the three Central Universities of Aligarh, Banarasand Delhi.
  • Soon after Independence, the University Education Commission was set up in 1948 under the Chairmanship of Dr. S Radhakrishnan “to report on Indian university education and suggest improvements to suit the present and future needs and aspirations of the country”.
  • It recommended that the University Grants Committee be reconstituted on the general model of the University Grants Commission of the United Kingdom with a full-time Chairman.
  1. Yaksha and Yakṣhini (PIB)

  • Yaksha and yakṣhini, in the mythology of India, are a class of spirits who are considered the custodians of treasures that are hidden in the earth and in the roots of trees.
  • They are powerful magicians and shape-shifters. Principal among the yakshas is Kubera, who rules in the mythical Himalayan kingdom called Alaka.
  • Yakshas were often given homage as tutelary deities of a city, district, lake, or well.
  • Their worship, together with popular belief in nagas (serpent deities), feminine fertility deities, and mother goddesses, may have had its origin among the early indigenous peoples of India.
  • Yaksha worship coexisted with the priest-conducted sacrifices of the Vedic period.
  • In art, sculptures of yakshas were among the earliest of deities to be depicted, apparently preceding images of the bodhisattvas and of Brahmanical deities, whose representation they influenced.
  • They also were the prototypes for the attendants of gods and kings in later Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain art.
  1. Odissi: The Mobile Sculpture Dance Form (PIB)

  • A 7th century A.D. text, Vishnudharrnottara Purana say, “vinatunrityashastrenachitrasootramsudurvidam”. The sage propounding this text says that without the knowledge of dancing the other plastic arts cannot be comprehended.
  • This very clearly shows the co-relationship of sculpture and dance. It is said that dance is a mobile sculpture and sculpture is a frozen dance. In this context, the classical dance style Odissi from Odisha is a shining example.
  • Odissi is redolent with sculpturesque poses which are reminiscent of the glorious stone sculptures of Konark and other temples from Odisha. These sculptures appear as if they are actually executing the steps of Odissi.

The serenity on the faces of the dancing figures is in keeping with the deeply devotional fervour of the dance. Odissi, if one has to describe its characteristics, is rather uncomplicated. Its beauty, its sculpturesque poses and the lovely tribhangi – the triple bend in the body – always remind one of the beauty of Indian art in general.